Top 10 Rookies in Fantasy Football


Even with the NFL Lockout putting a damper on things, its never too early to discuss fantasy football. Following the results of the NFL Draft, we now have some new toys to shop for come fantasy draft day. Past rookies such as Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, DeSean Jackson and Matt Forte have made immediate fantasy impacts, and absolute steals in keeper leagues. (In my league I drafted Peterson (6th Round), Johnson (13th Round) and Jackson (17th Round). Following the results of the 2011 NFL Draft, I have ranked the Top 10 Rookie Fantasy Draft players to watch this off-season:

Top 10 Rookie Fantasy Players:

10a. Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals

Williams could move up this list rather quickly depending on how he competes in a crowded backfield, but with former 1st round pick Beanie Wells constantly battling injuries, and Tim Hightower standing in his way, he should be able to garner a solid share of the carries. One thing that would concern me is that even at Virginia Tech, Williams was not used as a short yardage specialist, so Hightower and Wells who are more physical, could vulture his red zone touches.

Prediction: 157 Carries, 599 Yards, 3 TD   24 Catches, 136 Yards, 1 TD

10b. Jon Baldwin, WR, Chiefs

Having two big bodied WR’s in your arsenal is a luxury. With Bowe more established and most likely to command double teams, look for Baldwin to see plenty of single coverage. While he is extremely raw, he will be able to utilize his physical strength and leaping ability to become a viable red zone target. Keep an eye on him

Prediction: 38 Catches, 548 Yards, 7 TD

9. Delone Carter, RB, Colts

Carter is yet another player that is an injury away from being an elite fantasy option this season. The Colts have to re-commit to the run game as opposing defenses went after Peyton Manning like never before, simply ignoring the run game as it posed no threat. The Colts addressed their offensive line issues early in the draft, and seem poised to go back to a more balanced attack that worked so well for them in the past. With Joseph Addai more than likely gone to free agency, and Donald Brown’s production sporatic at best, look for Carter to step in and have a great season. I had Carter as one of my top sleepers in this years’ draft and I fully expect hiim to emerge as a huge fantasy sleeper as well. He is virtually zero threat as a pass receiver out of the backfield, but he is a physical slasher with excellent vision, burst, and shiftiness in the open field. Look for him to also receive the majority of the red zone touches this season.

Prediction: 164 Carries, 643 Yards, 10 TD   8 Catches, 64 Yards, 1 TD


8. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots

With Benjarvus Green-Ellis expected to walk this off-season, and with Danny Woodhead as their only other viable option at RB, look for Vereen to step in and make an impact right away. More than likely, the Pats will sign a veteran RB as they always do, and they already drafted another developmental RB in Stevan Ridley, but spending a 2nd round pick on Vereen tells you that the Patriots are extremely high on him and should look to get their money’s worth. Vereen is a dual threat as an explosive rusher and receiver out of the backfield, and should be a nice late round option in PPR leagues.

Prediction: 162 Carries, 679 Yards, 4 TD   27 Catches, 346 Yards, 3 TD

7. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Redskins

With Santana Moss’ future in Washington in doubt, Hankerson may be asked to step in right away and produce, with very little competition besides deep threat Anthony Armstrong. Despite a shaky QB situation, and a developing team in a tough NFC East,  he should receive enough targets to be a viable option as the season progresses.

Prediction: 69 Catches, 817 Yards, 5 TD


6.  Mikel LeShoure, RB, Lions

Many draft experts had LeShoure as the top rated RB on their draftboards and with good reason. LeShoure is a powerful running back, with excellent speed for his size and the perfect compliment to last years 2nd round pick Jahvid Best. LeShoure should garner the majority of the red zone touches, and could step up and see significant playing time should Best’s injury woes creep back up on him.

Prediction: 189 Carries, 704 Yards, 10 TD   13 Catches, 83 Yards, 1 TD


5.  Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

Mark Ingram’s fantasy value would be significantly higher if he wasn’t looking at a timeshare that could consist of Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and possibly Reggie Bush, but the expectation is that he will still end up with the majority of the touches. Ingram is a workhorse, and within a year or two, could be one of the most productive backs in one of the most potent offenses in all of football which gives him tremendous keeper value. Avoid reaching too high for him though as he could be more of a long-term investment, as his first year numbers may fall a bit short of expectations.

Prediction: 198 Carries, 789 Yards, 9 TD  28 Catches, 198 Yards, 3 TD


4.  Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

When the Falcons traded up to the #6th overall pick, they knew they were getting a special player in Julio Jones. Jones is the last missing piece in an already potent Falcons offense, and could see a significant amount of open looks as opposing defenses have to stack against Michael Turner while still accounting for the likes of Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Jones has game breaking speed to go along with his 6’4″ 200+ lbs frame. His production will be sporadic, but he will definitely be good for a number of big games this season.

Prediction: 52 Catches, 828 Yards, 7 TD


3.  Roy Helu, RB, Redskins

Redskins’ head coach Mike Shannahan is reknown for spewing out 1000+ yard rushers out of virtually nowhere, but now he has himself a young thoroughbred with phenominal raw talent that happens to be the perfect fit for his one cut and go zone scheme. While Ryan Torrain will be the starter going in, look for Helu to take over by mid-season and produce big time numbers. If Torrain stays healthy, he will garner the majority of the red zone touches, but regardless, Helu should receive enough of a workload to post some legitmate fantasy numbers.

Prediction: 214 Carries, 977 Yards, 5 TD   17 Catches, 139 Yards, 2 TD’s


2.  A.J. Green, WR, Bengals

With both Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco likely moving on from Cincinnati, QB Carson Palmer’s premature retirement, and the addition of new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, the Bengals offense is experiencing virtually a complete facelift. Green was drafted #4 overall to step in and immediately be an intrigal component of Gruden’s west coast offense. Green may be hampered by rookie QB and expected starter Andy Dalton’s development, but that is unlikely to reduce his number of targets considering he will be assuming the load left vacant by Ochocinco and Owens. Green will be going through his own growing pains as he makes the transition from college to the pro game, but he should still post the highest stat totals of all the rookie receivers in this draft.

Prediction: 82 Catches, 1086 Yards, 8 TD


1.  Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins

While Daniel Thomas may not be the best running back in this draft, he will be the most productive because of the circumstances he was drafted in considering the fact that Ronnie Brown is not going to be back with the Dolphins. The Dolphins have already come out and annointed him the full-time ball carrier, and run a true pro-style balanced offense that will involve pounding the ball consistantly with Thomas. Look for the ‘Phins to pick up a veteran 3rd down back such as Darren Sproles once free agency begins to compliment him, but he still should shoulder a significant amount of carries and virtually all the red zone touches. Thomas’ upside is tremendous, but he must overcome nagging injuries that hampered him down the stretch last season, and fumbling issues. If so, he will be the most productive rookie in fantasy football this year.

Prediction: 289 Carries, 1132 Yards, 14 TD   21 Catches, 179 Yards, 2 TD



Also Receiving Consideration:

Randall Cobb, WR/RB, Packers  (38 Catches, 456 Yards, 1 TD    8 Carries, 58 Yards, 1 TD)

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys   (133 Carries, 534 Yards, 4 TD    27 Catches, 242 Yards, 2 TD)

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers   (134/209, 1894 Yards, 9 TD, 5 INT    58 Carries, 416 Yards, 7 TD)

Titus Young, WR, Lions   (41 Catches, 502 Yards, 3 TD)

Austin Pettis, WR, Rams   (64 Catches, 693 Yards 5 TD)

Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens  (33 Catches, 592 Yards, 4 TD)

Lance Kendricks, TE, Rams  (54 Catches, 547 Yards, 7 TD)

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings (257/502, 2964 Yards, 12 TD, 9 INT)

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (279/523, 3126 Yards, 15 TD, 13 INT)